Ohio Lawmakers Announce Plan to Subsidize Nuclear Plants
Ohio lawmakers on April 12 announced a plan to provide financial support to the state’s two nuclear power plants by adding a surcharge to customers’ electric bills. The bill’s supporters said it also would generate as much as $300 million annually for clean power generation in Ohio, though the measure calls for abolishing mandates for renewable energy.
House Speaker Larry Householder (R-Glenford), leader of the state’s Republican-controlled House that is backing the bill, said the proposal—called the Ohio Clean Air Program (OCAP)—would do more than save the nuclear plants. About half the money raised by the surcharge would go to Davis-Besse nuclear plant near Toledo and the Perry plant near Cleveland.
The nuclear plants are scheduled to close by 2021 unless operator FirstEnergy Solutions (FES) can find a buyer for the plants or financial relief to keep them open. FES sought bankruptcy protection in March 2018, just after the company notified regional transmission organization (RTO) PJM Interconnection that it would close four uneconomic nuclear units—a total of 4 GW, including the two Ohio plants—in the RTO’s footprint. FES also asked the Department of Energy (DOE) to save its struggling nuclear and coal plants through a Federal Power Act Section 202c emergency order.
FirstEnergy Corp., parent of FES and FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Company (FENOC), in late September 2018 said the bankruptcy court approved the company’s definitive settlement agreement in the Chapter 11 proceedings of FES and FENOC.
Friday’s announcement in Ohio comes as lawmakers in other states, including Pennsylvania, pursue efforts to save nuclear power.
Funding for Renewables
The other half of the money raised by the bill add-on would provide funding to expand renewable energy development in Ohio. The surcharge calls for adding $2.50 to a monthly residential bill. Commercial users would see a $20-a-month increase, and industrial customers could see an increase of as much as $250 a month.